The Global South media on the war in Ukraine (01.07 – 08.07)
- Peace efforts of Global South countries and their approach to a conflict resolution
Premium Times, a Nigerian online newspaper based in Abuja, published on its website on July 5, the article “Africa’s Ukraine-Russia mediation needed clearer AU footprint”. According to the article, the peace mission aimed at ending hostilities in Ukraine has provided an important opportunity to improve collective global standing of African countries.
“Food, fertiliser and fuel are among the reasons Africa needs the Russia-Ukraine war to end quickly. With Africa becoming an arena for geopolitical competition, the June mission of seven African countries to Ukraine and Russia was important and represented a sea-change in continental diplomacy on non-African security crises. The African delegation proposed a 10-point plan for de-escalating the war, but the mission stood little chance of nudging the positions of either Ukraine or Russia closer to a ceasefire. Despite efforts by major and emerging powers such as China, Turkey and Indonesia, a negotiated settlement is still far off. The African mission did not provide a road-map for mediation beyond the one-off trip.
The initiative also raised questions about the relevance of the African Union (AU) in crisis diplomacy outside Africa. Was the delegation acting on behalf of the continent or playing into the interests of South Africa, who led the mission? Why was the AU Commission not part of the delegation? Should the mediation have been mandated by the AU? The mission was driven by the long-standing goal of meaningful African representation in global politics. That goal is being aggressively pursued by coalitions of willing African states, which are an attractive option in the absence of official AU endorsement. They allow leaders to retain stronger control over outcomes and conduct ad hoc diplomacy more efficiently.”
“The Ukraine-Russia mediation was not coordinated through AU high-level channels such as the Assembly or Bureau – the statutory bodies that can commission government leaders on such initiatives. A formal mandate would have required agreement on the peace plan, necessitating a protracted negotiation process among AU member states.”
“The initiative is the second attempt at AU-led crisis diplomacy on the war that failed to create collective ownership among AU countries. Member states have not found a consensus position on Russia’s war in Ukraine, so they could not have delegated the peace initiative.”
“The first effort in June 2022 by then AU chair and President of Senegal Macky Sall, with AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Mahamat, included a visit to Russia, but not Ukraine. Without a clear mandate from member states, the two AU leaders had earlier that year called for Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty to be respected and consideration given to the economic impacts of the war on Africa. Mr Mahamat’s involvement was a success for the AU Commission, but his side-lining in the June 2023 peace mission suggests member states are reluctant to see a more independent commission acting on their behalf.”
“The June 2022 mission reportedly had the blessing of the AU Assembly Bureau. But it lacked a formal mandate from the AU Assembly and the backing of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), whose mandate is interpreted as limited to Africa. Yet, the shifting geopolitical dynamics and impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war on Africa show the need to redefine the PSC’s mandate concerning non-African crisis diplomacy. Without the political legitimacy that an AU-led initiative would have provided, the June 2023 peace mission was vulnerable to accusations of partiality. Despite their non-aligned stance, four of the nations involved (Egypt, South Africa, the Republic of the Congo and Uganda) pivot towards Russia. In contrast, Zambia and Comoros are more aligned with the West.”
“South Africa’s leadership of the mission was a success for the country’s international standing. But its alleged shipment of weapons to Moscow via a ship under United States sanctions called into question South Africa’s credibility as group leader. Egypt and Uganda are also linked to Moscow through arms purchases. So, what role could the AU have played? The initiative could have benefited from the AU Commission’s experience with high-level preventive and crisis diplomacy. An AU-driven African peace initiative, with perhaps a stronger role for the AU Assembly’s Bureau, would have contributed to the AU’s aspiration of ‘Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner.”
“The continent is deeply divided on how to deal with the resurgence of global great power competition, and overcoming the current collective paralysis will take time. Any opportunity to reap the benefits for Africa’s long-term economic and political aspirations should be taken. Across AU institutions, abstract aspirations of African agencies should be clearly defined and put into practice. Repeated failures to finalise an AU partnership strategy show the gridlock to be overcome. AU member states need to integrate the dynamism of ad hoc diplomatic efforts into long-standing institutional development.
Tensions between the AU Commission, PSC and member states must also be navigated if the AU is to elevate Africa’s role in global crisis diplomacy. ”
“The AU Executive Council meeting in Nairobi on 13-14 July is an opportunity for a candid exchange and debrief on the African peace mission to Ukraine and Russia. A statement on the initiative or even an expression of gratitude from the Executive Council for the mission would be beneficial. The continent’s leaders should underscore the relevance (and difficulty) of Africa taking a stance on non-African security challenges. And to retain positive dynamism around the AU’s participation in the G20 and UN Security Council, future mediation missions should include a better-organised and pro-active AU Commission. ”https://www.premiumtimesng.com/features-and-interviews/608100-africas-ukraine-russia-mediation-needed-clearer-au-footprint.html
- Economic issues connected with the war in Ukraine
The Indian Express, an Indian English-language daily newspaper, published on July 5 the article “Discounted Russian crude imports saved Indian refiners $7 billion”, in which it was mentioned that due to Western sanctions Indian refiners could gain a significant discount on Russian crude oil.
“Indian refiners saved at least $7.17 billion in foreign exchange in the 14 months that ended May 2023 by ramping up purchases of discounted Russian crude oil following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, an analysis of India’s trade data for the period shows.
India, the world’s third-largest consumer of crude oil, depends on imports to meet over 85 per cent of its oil needs. With Western buyers cutting oil imports from Russia in the wake of its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has been offering discounts on its crude. Indian refiners have been lapping up these discounted barrels, so much so that Russia, which used to be a marginal player in India’s oil trade, is now New Delhi’s biggest oil supplier.
The total value of India’s oil imports for the 14-month period from April 2022 to May 2023 was $186.45 billion. Had Indian refiners paid for Russian oil the average price they paid for crude from all other suppliers put together, the oil import bill would have been $193.62 billion, the analysis shows.” https://indianexpress.com/article/business/commodities/discounted-russian-crude-imports-saved-indian-refiners-7-billion-8751745/
- Impact of the war on the Global South relations with Russia, China and the West
Daily Maverick, a South African online news publication and weekly print newspaper, published at its website on July 6 the article “MINUSMA leaves Mali: will regional leaders step up on security?”, written by the experts of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) (Africa’s leading multidisciplinary human security organization headquartered in Pretoria, South Africa). It is suggested in the article that ECOWAS and the AU to “implement African solutions” after the UN mission’s withdrawal from Mali and prevent the increase of Russian influence on the situation in the Sahel.
“On 30 June the United Nations (UN) Security Council voted unanimously to end the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) as of 31 December 2023. The vote follows a request by Mali’s transitional government for the mission to be withdrawn ‘without delay.’ MINUSMA was deployed in July 2013. Northern Mali had been occupied by armed groups in 2012, and was liberated by the Franco-African military intervention launched in January 2013. In May 2022 Mali withdrew from the G5 Sahel and soon after that, the French-led Barkhane and Takuba forces departed the country. The end of MINUSMA marks another step in dismantling the international security response to the crisis in Mali and the Sahel. Cracks appeared between Bamako and Paris as early as January 2013 over the liberation of Kidal. But the active deconstruction of bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms was triggered by Mali’s realignment with Russia after the West African country’s second coup in May 2021, and the ensuing diplomatic crisis with France. Mali’s decision to explore new military alliances reflects a dissatisfaction with the partnerships forged over the past decade. Lessons must be learnt from this.”.
“Diplomatic and geopolitical tensions – exacerbated by the polarisation between the West and Russia over the Ukraine war – have also tested Mali’s regional partnerships. Relations with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and G5 Sahel were most affected. Mali’s transitional authorities perceive both bodies as being under French influence. France’s leading role in MINUSMA’s initial political and military set-up and its position as the penholder on the Malian situation at the UN Security Council have fed successive Malian governments’ suspicion about the mission. As a result, the transitional authorities have denounced the politicisation of human rights issues by Western powers, after civilian deaths and abuses occurred during operations carried out by the Malian Armed Forces since 2022. This is in addition to the limitations of MINUSMA’s military mandate, which mainly provided for stabilisation operations and didn’t meet the country’s counter-terrorism objectives. However, Mali’s demand for the withdrawal of MINUSMA carries significant political, security and humanitarian risks for the country and the region. Although the government seems confident in its ability to assume full control post-MINUSMA, a clearly defined alternative strategy is needed.”
“Diplomatic and geopolitical tensions – exacerbated by the polarisation between the West and Russia over the Ukraine war – have also tested Mali’s regional partnerships. Relations with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and G5 Sahel were most affected. Mali’s transitional authorities perceive both bodies as being under French influence. France’s leading role in MINUSMA’s initial political and military set-up and its position as the penholder on the Malian situation at the UN Security Council have fed successive Malian governments’ suspicion about the mission. As a result, the transitional authorities have denounced the politicization of human rights issues by Western powers, after civilian deaths and abuses occurred during operations carried out by the Malian Armed Forces since 2022. This is in addition to the limitations of MINUSMA’s military mandate, which mainly provided for stabilization operations and didn’t meet the country’s counter-terrorism objectives. However, Mali’s demand for the withdrawal of MINUSMA carries significant political, security and humanitarian risks for the country and the region. Although the government seems confident in its ability to assume full control post-MINUSMA, a clearly defined alternative strategy is needed.”
“At this stage, enhanced military cooperation with Russia and bilateral collaboration with some immediate neighbors seem to be at the heart of Mali’s strategy. However, the authorities must remember that solutions from outside Africa that entail financial or technical dependency come with external constraints that could affect their durability and effectiveness.”
“The withdrawal of Minusma paves the way for more assertive African leadership in addressing the Sahel’s insecurity. It provides an opportunity to constructively redefine multilateral relations in a region that has seen damaging institutional rivalries between the UN, AU, Ecowas, G5 Sahel and, to a lesser extent, the Accra Initiative. It also enables Ecowas and the AU to implement African solutions. National and multilateral players should act on the lessons learnt from 10 years of intervention in the Sahel. The region is at a crossroads and will find it hard to withstand the shock of another decade of instability” https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2023-07-06-as-minusma-exits-mali-questions-remain-on-regional-leaders-ability-to-address-security-challenges/
Clarín, the most circulated newspaper in Argentina, published on July 3 the article “The growing distance between Latin America and the EU” (“La creciente distancia entre América Latina y la UE”), by prominent Spanish expert on international relations Susanne Gratius, who is convinced that the war between Russia and Ukraine revealed that Latin American and European countries have different interests and prepared the ground for the increase of Chinese influence in the region.
”At the next Summit with Latin America and the Caribbean, this July in Brussels, the European Union (EU) will launch Route 2023 as a response to China’s Belt and Road and the global infrastructure plan proposed to the region by the US. Though Brussels’ project can hardly compete with its rivals, the EU hoped to gain a comparative advantage by bolstering the common values. Barely 9.8% of Latin American exports were forwarded to the EU in 2020-2021, which became a significant decrease from the historic second position, falling to fifth after the US (42.5%), China (15 .4%), Latin America (14.5%) and other Asian countries (10.4%). The EU holds the same fifth position as the region of origin of Latin American imports. The scant presence of the EU in Latin America contrasts with the influence of the European values, based of the affinity of Latin American countries with the European commitment to peace, democracy and development. However, the convergence of values has also become threatened since both regions have been involved in a new geopolitical game that demands greater realism in its external projections and that is detrimental to liberal principles such as democracy, development or peace. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the increasing confrontation between autocratic regimes and democracies have been compelling countries of both regions to male a choice between the US and NATO or China and Russia. The most probable forecast of global development is a greater rivalry between China and the US. And because Europe and Latin America have good relations with both sides of the conflict, they are going to find themselves between a rock and a hard place”.
“The liberal project has become less attractive in the new situation and its values that before 2022 were the unifying force of European-Latin American relations have lost their ability to integrate the regions. The war revealed fundamental differences between Latin America and the EU. Although only four countries (Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador and Nicaragua) abstained from condemning the invasion at the United Nations and 28 voted in favor, different interpretations of the events have become obvious. Latin America rejects unilateral sanctions that some countries (Cuba, Venezuela) continue to suffer from, considers these measures to be useless and regard them as a violation of national sovereignty and the principle of non-interference.
This approach has something in common with ideas promoted by China.”.
“The regional experience with US military interventions and embargoes created an almost unanimous aversion against these actions not imposed by the United Nations. Likewise, countries like Brazil refuse to get involved in the conflict and position themselves on the side of Ukraine, among others because of its close relations with China, which presented, in April 2023, a twelve-point peace plan that Brazil has supported. Other countries, with depend on Russia, such as Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela cannot vote against Putin.”
“The increase of Chinese influence and its spreading in Latin America also strengthen political ties. The CELAC-China Forum competes with the EU-CELAC meetings and the next summit between Latin America/Caribbean and China will consolidate the influence of the Asian country. Russia is an important supplier of arms to the region and maintains close relations with Cuba and Venezuela, but also with Brazil within the BRICS group and its New Development Bank. The close cooperation between South America and China contrasts with a more distant view on the part of the EU and most of its member states. The EU maintains dialogue and cooperation with its second trading partner China, but the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also described it as a “systematic rival and economic competitor”. The EU does not support China’s peace plan and clearly stands on the side of the US and NATO. Unlike most Latin American countries, the EU cut its relationship with Russia and substantially reduced its energy dependence, assuming the high costs. Rebuilding consensus on international issues is an important objective of the upcoming EU-LAC Summit. However, it is highly unlikely that these issues will be high on the agenda as the EU does not perceive Latin America as an equal partner or global player. Furthermore, it sees war as a regional rather than a global issue. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the distance between partners who previously shared values has grown. The war lead to a more realistic approach to the EU’s foreign relations, which was evidenced in Josep Borrell’s demand that the EU should learn the game of hard power and show a lesser commitment to the liberal agenda. But both the European project and the EU influence in Latin America have been built. The emergence of the BRICS has changed the geopolitical position of South America, which is determined now by asymmetric economic interdependencies with China and a greater political commitment with Russia. It means that a distance from Europe and the US will keep on growing. The common liberal values continues remain, but the impact has become weaker in the face of the new international challenges to which Latin America and the EU tend to have different responses.” https://www.clarin.com/opinion/creciente-distancia-america-latina-ue_0_pwuSN5vx7l.html
(Translated from Spanish by IISWU)